Santa Clara Valley Wines
Mention Santa Clara, and it is usually a conversation about a Silicon Valley company or maybe about the stadium where the San Francisco Forty Niners play football. There is another thriving industry in Santa Clara: Wine. Tucked away in Morgan Hill, Gilroy and other areas are twenty-six small wineries. Santa Clara Valley is an AVA or wine appellation. That means unique soil and climate conditions. We know the area is known for crops like garlic, peppers and strawberries, but the terroir is also conducive to grape growing. Most of the wineries in the Santa Clara Valley are open on weekends, but some are open daily. Check the Association’s Website to find specific times for tasting. Santa Clara Valley Wines also has a Passport Weekend. The 2017 event will be held on October 13, 14, and 15.
I recently received a set of wine samples from the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley. I decided it would be best to taste these wines with a group of my wine friends, the Vintage Wine Tasters. It is a good group for judging wine. We vary greatly in the type and style of wine we prefer. The members are brutally honest. None of us are experts, but we are daily wine drinkers and have a lot of consumer wine experience.
Tasting Notes on Santa Clara Wines
Overall, we enjoyed all of the Santa Clara Valley wines we tasted. The majority of the Vintage Wine Tasters had not previously tasted a Santa Clara Valley wine in recent times. Perhaps in our college days we tasted some Paul Masson or Mirassou wines.
2014 Sarah’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
A spicy Pinot Noir with a great mouthfeel. A little on the heavy side compared to cool climate Pinot Noirs from Russian River Valley or Carneros. Aroma not as strong as we would like, but Pinot Noir characteristic abounds on the palate. List – $44
2013 La Vie Dansante Rehearsal (80% Syrah, 20% Carignane)
Very food friendly and medium bodied. Very Southern Rhone-like in style. Small aftertaste and a bit tannic. List – $28
2013 Fortino Charbono
A very rich and compelling aroma. Medium bodied with a great mouthfeel. A good balance of acidity and tannins. Great finish. Reminded one of our tasters of being in Italy. One of the favorites of our group. List – $44
2013 Seeker Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
We found the wine to be very young with fresh fruit characters. Needs more time to age and mellow. List – $42
2012 Jason Stephens Syrah
Big, bold and very flavorful from nose to the finish. Great dark fruit flavors. List – $26
2014 Stefania Syrah
This wine was the pick of the Vintage Wine Tasters. Nice spice and fruit flavors. Elegant and smooth, and an amazingly long and lingering finish. At $24, it is the best value in the lineup.
If you drive to Morgan Hill, stop in at the Nob Hill Market. Nob Hill has a terrific wine selection of local wines. Take the Tennant Avenue exit from Highway 101 and head west. Nob Hill is at 451 Town Center. You will find that the local wines are heavily discounted.
I have previously visited two Santa Clara Valley wineries and both are impressive. My favorite winery in this AVA is the Guglielmo Family Winery. I also enjoy the beautiful tasting room and the grounds at Clos La Chance winery.